Improved Spanish understanding of Africa with Casa África

September 2007 -

These days, the Canary Islands primarily make the headlines as the centre of the humanitarian tragedy taking place in turbulent waters between Africa and Europe. Each year, tens of thousands of Africans risk their lives by embarking on the dangerous journey from Mauritania and Senegal in improvised boats, hoping to find work in Spain and the rest of Europe. Many fail to reach the opposite shore. Those who make it are confronted with a lack of understanding among the Spanish population. The cultural centre Casa África – Africa House - that opened its doors in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria in June 2007 hopes to change this. It strives to do so by means of expositions, seminars, an on-going film programme, concerts and book presentations that give insight into the 'other' Africa.


Work of art by Outtara Watts

Casa África is in keeping with a broader, two-year Africa Plan, the initiative for which was taken last year by the Spanish government. According to the plan, the governments of Senegal, Guinea Bissau and other countries in the region will receive extra financial assistance from the eight southern members of the EU if they promise in turn to devote effort to combating illegal emigration. The Spanish government also compiled a new master plan in 2007 for its development branch, Agencia Española de Cooperación Internacional (AECI). More than ever before, in doing so it recognises cultural diversity, the importance of cultural industries, and culture and development. Casa África is intended to help effectuating these two strategies. The centre will serve both as an open forum for citizens and as a reference point for Spanish-African cultural political relations.

Casa África opened with the multi-media exposition 3+3 plural africa, in which six African artists participated. The website includes a detailed calendar of Africa events in Spain as well as background information about African countries.